ST. PAUL, Minn. — Three minutes and 53 seconds left against the Colorado Avalanche, 1:48 left against the Chicago Blackhawks, six seconds remaining against Colorado in another game; the Minnesota Wild are demonstrating a flair for the dramatic.
Another third-period comeback on Tuesday showed the confidence Minnesota has developed in critical situations. One game earlier, at Colorado, Nino Niederreiter scored with 3:53 remaining to push the game into overtime where the Wild won in the shootout.
On Tuesday, Charlie Coyle was the third-period savior, scoring 8:47 into the third period and Minnesota won a second straight game in the shootout when Jason Pominville scored and Josh Harding kept Vancouver out of the net on all three chances.
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“It wasn’t the prettiest one, but we stuck with it and found a way,” Pominville said. “I think the last couple weren’t the prettiest wins, but I feel like we have a lot of battle on the team. We stick with it. We keep our composure and found a way. That’s why you play 60 minutes. It’s not over until the end.”
Five times in the past nine games, the Wild have either come-from-behind or snapped a tie in the third period to win a game or advance to overtime.
“Confidence, and just sort of an attitude as much as anything else, that they’re going to keep fighting,” coach Mike Yeo said. “There’s been other games where we haven’t gotten the win, but again this has been the characteristic of our group.”
The resiliency shows in cases like Tuesday, where Vancouver scored in the second period and controlled the early part of the third by clamping down defensively and not letting Minnesota carry momentum into the offensive zone.
Once Coyle — back at right wing on the top line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu – scored his fourth goal of the season and snapped a six-game goalless streak, the play opened for the Wild, who nearly won in regulation and overtime.
“I think we definitely want to start the game setting a tone and playing all the way through for 60 minutes,” Coyle said. “Down by a goal, you kind of got a sense of urgency I think and time is winding down, so you pick it up a little bit. I think we’ve got to play like that for the most part the whole game.”
The third period has belonged to Minnesota recently.
Before the past two comebacks led to wins in the shootout, the Wild had an important come-from-behind effort against the Chicago Blackhawks. After giving up two early third-period goals, Minnesota was down 3-2. Jonas Brodin scored with 5:39 left and Marco Scandella added another goal with 1:48 to give the Wild the win.
Against Philadelphia, Pominville and Coyle scored in the third period to break a scoreless tie in a Minnesota victory. At Colorado on Nov. 30, Matt Cooke scored with 3:27 and Koivu tied the game with six seconds left to recover from a two-goal deficit.
“I guess you don’t want to make a habit of it, but we’re confident we can come back,” Parise said. “You don’t want to continuously do it. It’s tiring mentally and as you go on later in the season, teams get better and better at closing the door. We don’t want to do it too much.”
For now, it’s worked in the Wild’s favor.
“Our guys dig deep,” Yeo said. “Two games in a row where we’re down after two periods where we come back and battle back to get a win.”